A short item in last week’s unsubstantiated tips & rumours section on how Miranda Devine talked her way into A-List seats at the Schapelle Corby sentencing has sparked quite a response:
Last Friday Ms Devine defended herself thus
Your item about me yesterday was wrong. You did not need a journalists’ visa to get into the Bali courtroom. You just had to show your passport, which I did, and have your bag searched. The Indonesian officials were asking for relatives to go in first. I asked if friends could go in early but was told no. When it was time for journalists, Sian Powell (The Australian) and I were near the front of the queue, having waited since 6:30am. We forged though, passports open for inspection, along with Cindy Wockner (The Daily Telegraph), reporters from AAP and SBS and a number of local journalists and fixers. I had an excellent seat, in the third row, right behind the Corby family, with whom I chatted during proceedings. I think your informant is just jealous he wasn’t quick enough.
In response a subscriber writes:
I am not the original correspondent who wrote in about Miranda Devine at the Corby case but had to respond in support of your original informant. I have just pulled my jaw off the ground after reading Devine deny in Crikey that she had lied her way to get into the courtroom on Friday. Her account of the events is laughable and her gall at suggesting it didn’t happen, when there are so many witnesses to the fact that it did, is staggeringly arrogant. Ask any of the journalists within earshot of her on Friday (I was one of them) and they will tell you that people are still talking about how she got in by posing as a friend of Schapelle. The issue has caused serious concerns within Fairfax, which was warned by staffers not to let her go to Bali because she would be operating on a tourist visa and would jeopardise the work of journalists over there. At best, Devine is being incredibly creative with the facts. At worst, she is compounding one lie with another. Yes, in the end a journalist visa wasn’t needed to enter the courtroom on the morning of the court case, but it is needed to operate as a journalist in Indonesia and is mandatory.
Organisations covering the Corby case over here had been told to make sure they had one. Not only was her action a breach of her visa but was highly unethical and morally questionable. Several genuine friends and extended family members had to stay outside because the courtroom was full. She says in her response to Crikey that she went in with journalists including Sian Powell and Cindy Wockner. That is absolute rubbish. Powell and Wockner were allowed in early, along with Matthew Moore and some fixers, but the rest of the media, including Devine, were kept out until family arrived to make sure there would be room for the relatives and consular officials. As we were waiting patiently, Devine proceeded to tell one of the guards that she was a friend of Schapelle’s and needed to be in there for her. She persisted and convinced them she was a friend and was allowed in. She did NOT go in as media. She then sat behind the family. The incident was the talk of the Corby press contingent that night, who were staggered at the deception and are still wondering aloud how this fits in with Fairfax’s ethics. Her denial of the event when so many of us were present is even more staggering and it would be interesting to see what Fairfax has to say about one of its star columnists breaching a sizeable portion of the codes of ethics, not to mention the moral questions over what she did.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
And another writes:
Miranda Devine is lying. She did claim to be a friend of the family when the court security officials said family and friends could go into the Bali courtroom first. I heard her do it. And she did it at least once more. I believe Steve Pennells recorded all this in the West Australian the day after the verdict. He is right. It’s a mystery to me that she would deny something that was witnessed by several people. Whether Devine actually ended up getting in under that false guise or not I do not know. She may have gained entry legitimately. But it is a falsehood to say she didn’t try. Also, she somewhat overstates the case to suggest she had been queueing to get in since 6:30am. The queue was rather a large gaggle of journos sitting bored around a large courtyard drinking coffee and gossiping until about 15 minutes before the court opened, when there was a mild crush at the door. She is correct to say that reporters did not need a journalists’ visa to get in, though initially it had been thought we would. She did not have a visa and was working in Indonesia illegally. There is no jealousy involved here (and I’m not the source of the original item). I was also in the courtroom – and never considered breaching the code of ethics, let alone robbing a courtroom seat from Corby’s family, in order to gain access. I do wonder though: Miranda, when you were talking to Corby’s family from your fabulous third-row seat, did you tell them you were a journalist? Or did you breach the code of ethics twice that day?